In the original Need for Speed 1 game, there are 9 open-road tracks in 3 environments (Alpine, Coastal, City). They are ‘real’ roads with traffic, as opposed to the circuit tracks where you simply raced a number of laps. The end of each open-road track is marked by a checkpoint, and once you drive underneath it, the car brakes to a stop, and the race is over.
The faster you drive under the checkpoint, the further past the checkpoint you travel before the race ends. When I played this game back as a kid, I was fascinated with what lay beyond. It seems like the track keeps going. What is around the next bend, over the next hill? No-one knows except for the original developers!
For people who haven’t played the original (or did, but forgot in the last 20 years, heres a quick clip of exactly that happening.) See the track carrying on to who knows where!
In the track data files, the checkpoint is a piece of scenery, just like a tree or road sign. Each scenery item has a position and an orientation, relative to the track, and a pointer to a scenery descriptor.
A scenery descriptor describes a type of scenery, including size, textures, vertices, animations etc. Many scenery items can share a single descriptor.
After some digging, it turns out that the checkpoint scenery descriptor always has
resource_id = 0x7c.
0x7c always points to the checkpoint texture for the track. And
0x7c is hardcoded into the engine so that is knows that this scenery item is the checkpoint, and if you drive past it, apply the brakes and end the race.
With OpenNFS1, (my open-source NFS1 engine) we control whether the checkpoints stop your car or if allow you to drive right past them.
What this means, is we can now see those parts of the track which haven’t been seen by anyone except the original developers back in 1995!
In this screenshot, we’ve driven past the checkpoint, and are looking back at it. This is the first time a screenshot has been captured showing the track from this position :)
Past the checkpoints, some of the tracks continue on for quite a while, but there are no easter eggs unfortunately. It would have been great to find a photo of the dev team or something at the end of a track. But anyway, heres a video showing each of the previously lost sections of the open-road tracks!
These pixels haven't been seen for 20 years from gamedev